Avoid These Common Laboratory Mistakes When Beginning an Experiment

As of 2016, there were roughly 9,550 biochemistry degrees awarded to graduating college students. These students spend countless hours inside laboratories across the country and have to be extremely careful every step of the way. There are all kinds of common lab mistakes that can lead to some disastrous consequences inside a laboratory. Here are some common laboratory mistakes that you should avoid at all costs:
    • Not going in with a detailed plan: If you’re not bringing your laboratory notebooks with you prior to an experiment, you’re going to potentially have some serious issues on your hand. You need to plan out every aspect of your experiment and keep everything organized in your notebook. Being able to reference back to your plans and findings is key for any scientific project.
    • Storing regents incorrectly: Another common lab mistake involves not properly storing chemical reagents. For example, if you’re refrigerating chemicals that should be frozen, your entire experiment will be in jeopardy.
    • Taking shortcuts: Avoid taking shortcuts at all costs. If an experiment requires an incubation period of 30 minutes, patiently wait the required 30 minutes and don’t cut anything short to avoid lab errors. Make sure you know exactly what your time investment will be before beginning an experiment.
Additionally, here are some laboratory mistakes you should remember to avoid:
    • Never bring any food or drinks into the lab.
    • Never taste or smell any lab samples or chemicals for any reason at all.
    • Never handle chemicals alone or unsupervised.
    • Never forget to wash your hands after handling with chemicals or hazardous materials
    • Never wait too long before cleaning up any spills.
    • Never forget to wear the appropriate gloves, safety glasses, or goggles.
    • Never wear loose or drafty clothing that could get caught in any equipment or come in contact with various chemicals.
    • Never leave experiments running unattended.
    • Never work when you are exhausted or emotionally upset.
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